Post – by Gautam Shah



7An opening system in building is a facility for entry-exit, but also serves the functions of ventilation, view-in or out, outward breach of the space as well as inward infraction of the environment. Openings carry metaphoric meanings due to associations like entry-exit, open-shut, escape-retention, light-darkness, life-death, etc.

9 Ventilation shafts of Borisovo station

5 Ludia Kutchh Gujarat India 3446354281_e33e47c8b1_o

In literature openings occur as descriptions, metaphorical expressions and as metaphysical entities. As description, the opening systems occur as entities with some degree of architectural, functional and visual interests. Metaphorically the opening is a change. Doors, gates, windows, and other openings express the transition from one state of existence to another. Likewise passageways, bridges, ducts, also serve the function of transition. An opening is a line where the change occurs and the bridges lead a path to or away from such a line. The point of transition is a mark up, demarcation. Metaphysically the opening constitutes a triad: an inside, outside and as in-between. The construct is a 3-way experience, of being on one or the other side and the state, or of being into neither of the two. Here the third reality is the threshold, the zone of indecision for some. The paired reality of inside and outside, or existing on this side vs. the other side, creates a threshold or an edge. To stand upon a threshold allow one time and space for contemplation before committing to circumstances. As the action once undertaken here onward (or inwards) may not be undone.


10 wormhole-2514312_1280

An opening is a relief from the enclosure or very constricting situation. It is a way to fulfill the expected, and a venture for the unexpected. The opening is like a dream or thought, so thin and efferent that one often does not realize if it is real or ethereal.


Openings frame a view. The framed view is available so far one is little away on either of the sides, but same frame gets dissolved when one reaches the threshold. The frame enshrines an arresting or picturesque quality. An opening without any apparent framing seems surreal, as much as an opening that is without its adjacent wall or barricade. These staging qualities are used in art, architecture and performing arts settings. The framing provides a scale reference, but the third dimension of depth, remains ambiguous due to the foreshortening.

2 San_Juan_de_Ortega_(BURGOS)._Iglesia_monasterial._30


On physically passing through an opening a change manifests, but there is a psychical desire to go back to the origin. The inside or the womb is the origin, so humans endeavour to trace back. It is like an umbilical chord that never really gets severed.

1 Iglesia_de_San_Miguel_do_Monte

‘Often crossing a threshold, real or implied, moves us between safety of the known and anxiety of the unknown. Thus, working on literal and symbolic levels simultaneously, doors and other passageways can provide, both, the physical reality of protection and represent the psychological idea of safety. Additionally, as 3-dimensional constructions, openings allow not only the dualistic reality of inside and outside, but also the possibility to exist within—being neither in nor out. Once one crosses the threshold, there is no going back to what was’.

Bridge Train Travel Railway Railway Station


An opening as a barrier separates one from what is beyond. It provides an inside realm where one has survived and will continue to do so eternally. The safe environment perpetuates the identity of the inhabitant, and ‘its perception of the macrocosm remains unquestioned’. The edge of the barrier is something unreal, but a break in the barrier is real. It is at such a break, one hopes to do things that were never done. Such a point of transgression is the door or opening. Openings within the barriers like doors are the frames within which context, the change is referenced. ‘The Sun god arrives assuredly through the Eastern gate, and the past is always bounded by the door like the fake door of the Egyptian tombs.’ The fake door exists in spite of the knowledge that the dead will never return, and the door will remain unused.

Cuba Architecture Doors



Post –by Gautam Shah


Jalousie, Fountain, Derry, Northern Ireland

 Jalousie is a door or window shutter having adjustable horizontal slats for regulating the passage of view, air and light. The word Jalousie literally means jealousy perhaps because one can look through the screen without being seen. The word derives from old French gelosie which means a latticework screen. The earliest reference to Jalousie dates back to around the 16th C. Louvers of wood perhaps originated in the middle ages to cover chimneys for escape of smoke, and also for to keep rain and snow out while allowing air ventilation through roof lanterns meant for illumination.


 Jealousies or Louvers are both fixed and movable systems. These are impossible to seal completely, so are not very energy efficient systems. For the same reason these are well suited for verandah openings of tropical buildings to let in air and light. Jalousie is not considered a security tight opening.

Jalousie windows, villa Edelweiss, by architect Franz Baumgartner (1910), Main street, Poertschach, Klagenfurt Land, Carinthia Austria

Fixed Jealousies or louvers have a small gap -usually downward between its slats. The downward gap reflects light towards the ceiling, often creating distracting movement of shades. Downward system is called Awning-louvers systems. Contrary to the jalousie upwardly open, are called Hopper louvers systems. Awning systems are top-hung, whereas Hopper systems are bottom-hung.

2 Archirecture_of_Barcelona_streets._Catalonia,_Spain

 Movable louvers open upwards, downwards and both ways. The opening gap and angle both are adjustable, individually or simultaneously.

Louvers are ‘shutter elements’ within a door or window shutter. Such louvres are either fixed or movable, in horizontal or vertical positions. Louvers like panelling -fixed system with no gap (inclined and over-lapping edges like shingles), are also used in doors and windows’ shutters.

Louvered French Doors, Buenos Aires, Argentina

 Jealousies are placed within a shutter for part of a section as a ventilator or as an additional full-length door or window shutter, over the glass or solid panel shutters.

 Louvers provide visual privacy and control the passage of air, and also shed the rains. Louvers also control the amount of direct sun light and cut off the reflected light component by baffling and reflecting it. Louvre surfaces are treated to improve or reduce the reflection of light, solar radiation and for sound attenuation. Micro width louvres are incorporated into narrow space between glass panes such as air-crafts.


Louvres are also used in many utilities such as air distribution and sound proofing systems. Louvres as fixed slats are used in toilet doors, walk-in-wardrobe doors, kitchen cabinets. Mediterranean homes have louvered door and window shutters as secondary doors. Louvered panels are used in tropical houses to cover up the verandah like spaces.

 Louvres as an appendage are also placed on the exterior face as Brise soleil and on inside as Venetian blinds. Alvar Aalto, Finnish architect has used the fixed and movable louvres in several of his buildings.

5 -075_Edifici_al_pg._de_Gràcia,_78_(Barcelona),_balcó

 Pivots were the first movement mechanisms for doors and windows. Pivots were technologically easy to devise, but difficult to install and maintain. Early windows like the pivot doors opened inwards. Even today pivot windows opening fully or partly inward or outward are difficult to weather-seal. Double-hung sash windows have ‘hopper or awning; like pivoted shutter for opening a sash to clean and maintain its outer face.


 Horizontal pivot louvre windows are used in Industrial sky lights. Here the upper section is made slightly larger-heavier than lower section by minute off-centric positioning of the pivot. The upper section being larger is heavier, so opens out or inward as soon as the catch that holds the shutter is released.




 Post –by Gautam Shah


Shasta Dam -multi vendor job

Shasta Dam -multi vendor job

In a Design Practice, one of the important segments of work is, Job award process. Job award process results into a contractual award for the execution of a project. Contractual assignment of a job is nominally a privilege of the client. Designers, however, have a selfish interest in proper execution of their projects, and so may not let a client act independently. Designers, more often than not, make their participation mandatory in the contractual award for the execution of a project. This is done by the Designer through the Contract or Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Client.

JOB awards 膝にPC_右手にガラケー_2011_(5861970938)

Small clients realize their limitations, so do not bother to execute their jobs through a formal contract with a vendor or contractor, and allow the Designer to manage the execution.

Small clients.jpg

● On the other hand, clients representing public organizations, have to operate in a transparent (responsible) and a democratic manner, so prefer the participation of the Designer in conduction of contract procedures.


Large projects require setting of exact terms and conditions to avoid later litigation, so contractual assignment for execution is a must.

Government departments and Public organizations conduct the execution assignment procedures by themselves, as they have the requisite experience, and have to follow many routines and regulations.


Jobs are awarded for: not just executions of projects but also for supply of goods and components, turn key installations, services, labour, installation and erection facilities, transportation, material handling, repairs, maintenance, housekeeping, security, management, estimating, billing, accounting, supervision, purchase, sale, disposal, performance evaluation, etc.


Jobs can be awarded to any competent person, or a group of persons formally organized as partnerships concern, joint stock company, corporation, cooperative, or a consortium. Depending on the nature of client and size of work, a job contract may be awarded by personal favour, through restricted bids, open invitations, or direct assignment or mandate. Complex job contracts are awarded by evaluation of bids leading to elimination, by mutual negotiations, and by open bidding, or auction.

A job-award could be a single quotation for the total work, or several rates related to components or tasks (item-wise). The single quotation work contract could be fully or partially based, on conditions set by the client, or as improvised offers devised by the contractor.

A job award could be very specific, serving only one project, or item-wise rates applicable to several projects, limited in time or locality, usually both.

Multi Vendor Work

Job awards are always time bound, automatically becoming dysfunctional on expiry of a period or getting updated per some formulae. A job award could be a contingency contract, for remaining prepared to handle tasks or provide materials, components, systems for a situation that may or may not occur.

Job award could be a build-operate-transfer contract (BOT), where the contractor is not paid any thing, but operates the project and recovers the investments.


Job awards generally present a scheme of putting together a project through specifications of materials, methods and means. This traditional method fails to register the individual deficiencies, in projects involving many contractors or vendors. The customary method operates well for known technologies, but is not suitable for incorporating emergent technologies.

Jobs, however, if specified through only their performance requirements of the project, allow the contractor and vendors to offer newer and often economic options. Greater technical thought is required in planning a scheme of through performance specifications.





Post – by Gautam Shah



Cement mortars are rendered on masonry, concrete and other surfaces. The colour of cement, sand, amount of water, mixing, trowel pressure and rendering technique determine the colour of surfaces.

Cement mortars are mixed at two distinctive stages.

1. In dry state mixing of cement is mixed with other ingredients such as lime, chalk, sand, clay, various sizes and shapes of aggregates. Dry mixing requires continuous agitation till water is added, otherwise heavier ingredients settle down. Dry mixing is much easier, requires less energy then any wetted mass. Dry mixing helps penetration of water and thereby reduces the flocculation (wetting of cement particles due to enveloping air). In fast setting or hardening varieties of cements or due to presence of such additives, mixing of wet-mass becomes very difficult due to the resistance.


2. Dry state mixed mass is combined with water. Very intensely mixed mortars are air entrained and allow calcination of calcium hydroxide (instead of allowing it to combine with silica alumina compounds for cementing action). Air entrained mass also have lighter colour for a very temporary period, due to formation of bubbles.


Colour of the wet mixed cement-based mass and of the cured-dried mass are nearly uncertain conditions. There are great many operative variants. Cement mixed mortars are affected (tinged) by the colour of the aggregates. So it is very difficult to produce a perfectly white marble mosaic tile or washed chips plaster, unless only pure white aggregates are used. Cement and aggregate flooring such as IPS – Indian Patent Stone, Red Madras floor and Ironite (cast iron milling waste)are all strongly affected by the colour of the constituents.

Philips_Headquarters Addis_Abeba bush-hammered_concrete_columns

Coloured mortars have pigments of iron oxides (black, red and yellow). Green, blue and other colours (though not sun-fast or long lasting) are achieved by use of chrome pigments. For vertical and ceiling surfaces ziki plaster formed with marble dust containing substantial amounts of fine mica and talc. Similarly pearl glow and smooth surface can be achieved by including sea shell dust. Slow setting and engravable cement mortars require high workability, and are achieved by addition of fully calcined gypsum or lime containing such compounds.

Use of fine sands increases the air entraining effect and reduces the workability. Angular or flaky sands are difficult to use in sand face plasters.

Finishes for Concrete Surfaces

A cement agglomerate like concrete can have a finish depending on several factors, such as:

         Form work surface, joints and continuity, use of a release agent, absorbency of the form work surface and setting or hardening enhancer and retarders used.

2          Concrete mix proportions, ingredients’ colour, size, and texture (lighter toned aggregates and sands produce a light-coloured concrete (Colour of cement is variable not only from plant to plant but often batch to batch). Degree of mixing and air entrainment that occur in the mass. Free limes in water creates a soapy foam which also affects the colour.

3          Insufficient or uneven curing affects the hydration and eventually the colour of the concrete.

         Inadequate vibration causes minor pockets of air bubbles, which affects the texture.


.Joints and Lining works

Cements Joints or lining is rendered over stone, brick and other masonry blocks. Cement is used as a joint material for masonry work and component assemblies, coating material for masonry and other surfaces, casting materials as conglomerated compounds and bonding material for free particulate.


Cement joints, from a surface finish point of view are very important elements in exposed masonry faces. The joint is usually of a contrasting colour and of smoother texture, then the main material surface. A raked joint or protruding joint looks much darker than a flushed joint or flat joint.


Cement composites can be rendered to many types of finishes, patterns and textures. Type of ingredients, particle size, grain distribution, colour, structure, shape; techniques of application (trowel float, sprayed gunited, brush coated, sponge sucked, machine vibrated etc.) and post finish cares (premature wash etching, sand blasting, chipping, etc.) all form the quality of surface finish of cement composites.


Cement is used in types of composites. One of the cheapest combinations is soil-cement, a combination to produce masonry blocks and temporary (light traffic) pathways. Cement and dry agricultural waste or wood chips are used in production of low-cost insulation boards. Cement is also used in binding wood charcoal, lignite, mineral coke and other combustible waste to produce briquettes or fuel pallets.




Post -by Gautam Shah



To conduct various Tasks and to get relief from that chore we take certain body positions or postures. The posture could be sustained one or intermediate one to achieve a new posture. We often need help of a device, to achieve, maintain or terminate the posture. The devices or amenities for postures, make an activity, transition to or from it, or an interim relief, feasible, and efficient.


The capacity of body, to take-on a posture, sustain it, and leave it, depends on many factors such as: Physiological structure, deformities, age related in-capacities, motor (movement-flexibility) potential and response time, etc. Body posture devices and amenities are primarily designed to make available maximum energy for the activity in appropriate form -direction and level. The efficiency of task operation is a direct function of the body posture achieved.

Gravity is the major force against which the body must achieve a particular position.  Hypothetically one may not need many of the body support systems, if the gravity were to be eliminated. In reality, however, one may still need support systems because the body has been genetically and physically conditioned with the presence of gravity. This is the reason why space astronauts sleep in standing position in no gravity zones and their module is rotated (spun) continually at slow speed.

1 3067641576_5b171d2dfc_z (1)

Supports help to maintain the body postures, and also facilitate some of the biological functions. The support and comfort have become synonymous concepts. Just as comfort is a situation-specific requirement, so are the support system.


Support systems are very personalized. Every individual presents a unique combination of stature and body mass. It is difficult to draw a standard support system. Support systems are designed on percentile basis, trying to satisfy the largest section of people for a variegated set of tasks. It may not work effectively across cultures.


Support systems ideal for posture initiation may not be efficient for continuing the posture, or for terminating (or transiting to another one) it. Posture support systems need to have micro variation facilities, to relieve tedium, to reset the pressure on body limbs (including blood and fluid vessels), and to allow sensorial and physical reach in various directions. A technically perfect support system may not be ever comfortable. Due to personal and in-explicit reasons some support systems are preferred to others or totally avoided.


A support system must also function well when employed with the utility for the task. A chair is a seating device, but a writing chair or a counter chair also relates to the specific work surfaces. A hospital bed is a sleeping device but it is also a treatment device.

Same size-type seat –different postures

Posture devices are designed by checking out following points.

■ Do you need any one’s help to take or leave a particular posture?

■ Do you really need any device to take on, maintain or change over to another posture?

■ Which limb of the body is supported by such a device?

■ How long is it supported?

■ Is the device a substantial support system for the body, or partial system for a limb?

■Is the device also a functional tool, gadget, machine, plant or equipment?

■ Is the device also a tool, gadget, machine, or equipment for a particular type of sensual perception or communication?

■ Is the posture, device dependent?

■ Is the device, posture dependent?

■ Are the devices and postures dependent on something else?

■ Is the posture static (substantial period between start and end of a posture)?

■ Is the posture variable (a phase in a series of postures movement spectrum)?

■ Is the posture device assistive or resistive?





Postby Gautam Shah


Le Corbusier - Chandigadh - Exposed Cement Concrete

Le Corbusier – Chandigadh – Exposed Cement Concrete

 In the past half a century, cement has come to predominate all the architectural surface finishes. Cements are Portland and to a limited extent Alumina cements, with many additives and fillers. Some additives and fillers contribute positively to improve the qualitative aspects such as strength, water proofing, homogeneity, shrinkage, rapid or low setting. While others are used to increase the bulk, to reduce cost with or without affecting the quality. Sand, lime, plaster of Paris, stone aggregates, cinders, expanded aggregates like vermiculite, fly ash, pozzolana, surkhi, gravel, metal turnings, asbestos, fiber-glass etc. and chemicals like metal stearates, silicates, polymers aluminium powder pastes etc. are used as additives and fillers.


Cement + water pastes have a tendency, for flocculation and form minute air bubbles an emulsion like mass, and tendency to set falsely. The paste as result has very poor workability and is good for very thin float type applications.


Cement + sand mixtures overcome the flocculation, emulsion like mass forming and false setting problems, and yet provide a reasonable workability. Addition of lime or proprietary chemicals improves the workability, but slows down the setting of cement. Plaster of Paris due to its affinity to water helps in through wetting, improve rendering of cement, but with increased time for setting.


Asbestos, glass fibres etc. reinforce the inter-particle bondage, i.e., homogenize the cement finish. Chemical like aluminium powder or flakes react with silicates of cement to form a foamy air-entrained paste, which on setting and drying retains sufficient spongy mass to insulate the base. Sodium silicate, sodium carbonate and certain sulphate form the basis of proprietary water proofing compounds.


Cement finishes whether smooth or textured, new or old, pose some of these problems:

● fine hair cracks

● honey comb voids

● unbounded loose particles

● foreign particles stuck on the surface

● foreign particles deposited on the surface.

● washable salts leached out from the surface

● salts and compounds formed over the surface by the constituents of the environment

● mould and fungi type bacterial growth

● disengagement from the substrate -peel off.


Cracks appear in both thick and thin masses of cement finishes. Very quick drying and sucking up of moisture by the thirsty substrate, the water needed for complete reaction, cause fine cracks. Saturated substrates often release excess moisture due to temperature change, and this disturbs the bonding to substrates. Unevenly bonded mass soon splits up. Unsound impurities like magnesium salts cause expansion and crack the surface. Where thick finishes are required multi coat application system, allow each coat to readjust the shrinkage stresses and thus reduce cracking. Where thin coats are unavoidable, the surface should be textured so that hair cracks are not easily visible.


Honey comb voids usually occur due to improper mixing and over stirring of ingredients. Method of application (pouring, placement, vibration, compaction) can overcome the air entrained voids, Trowel or float pressure on the surface can squeeze out excess water and consolidate the mass. Pressure spraying and guniting give a well-compacted mass. The voids, not only increase the total area of atmospheric exposure but also the moisture retention capacity of the surface. Consequently leaching of salts, decomposition of surface ingredients, bacterial growth increases.


Ingredients of cement surface finish remain loose or unbounded due to, lack of sufficient binder, poor wettability of fillers, flocculation due to very fine size of particles, oversized particles in terms of surface finish thickness and due to inadequate trowelling pressure. Loose particles get off the surface when fricative forces become operative. This may not damage the surface, but does contaminate the surroundings (e.g. drug or micro electronic plants). Beside the obvious remedies such as use of leaner mix (high wet plasticity), use of wetting agents, proper mixing, judicious selection of particle sizes and proper trowelling, air blasting and pressure cleaning can remove the unbounded particles from the cement surface.

If proper protection is not provided during hardening and setting periods, foreign or redundant particles such as, aggregates, sand, wood chips, saw dust, metal turnings get stuck up on the cement surface. Many of these materials, though, are inert and removable, but do dent the surface.


Moisture reacts with or dissolves the soluble ingredients, the compounds formed after setting and other deposited impurities. Resultant softened, dissolved and loosened substances get carried over to the micro cavities of the surface, where they dry out and remain till mechanically removed, blown off by air or washed away by water shower. However, in the intervening period some of these substances react with atmospheric carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide, air borne bacteria and fungi, sea salts etc. to form newer substances. Which if insoluble and harmful may have to be removed by rubbing, sanding or treating with suitable chemicals. Cement finish compounds are usually alkaline, so can be neutralized with mild acids, and then dislodged by plain water washing.

Louis Kahn Parliament Concrete Building BanglaDesh

Voids, dents, downs of a rough surface are full of moisture and provide an excellent culture for growth or mould, fungi etc. The bacteria are capable of laying latent for months and then revive with the monsoon. The only possible way to eliminate permanently this menace is to make the surface smooth and impervious. Where this is not achievable, periodic treatment of mouldicide and fungicide can help.



Post -by Gautam Shah



Fresco (Italian =fresh), is a method of loading colours on a wet or green plaster. The term is mainly applied to art of creating paintings, but may include craft of painting the architectural entities like walls and ceilings. It was a slow and labourious process, but for many centuries, it was the only viable process for rendering a painting on a masonry surface and for applying architectural colour.


Fresco technique of coating was not suitable for wood, or other soft surfaces. Metals and alloys were new materials at that time, and being mostly non ferrous did not require any additional finish.


In TRUE OR REAL FRESCO, the colourant pigments are applied on the top layer of a multi layered plaster system. For structural and levelling purposes one or more layers of plaster were applied. The final layer was thinner, and this was scratched to imprint the outline or sketch of the scheme. The sketch was drawn directly or imprinted by using a full size replica drawn on cloth (and later paper), called a cartoon. The cartoons were often reused in different works of art. The outlines of the various figures and forms were than filled-in with indicative dark water-based colours. A topping or finishing plaster was laid over the drawing in small sections, and each section of wet plaster was loaded with final colour scheme. As the plaster dried, the lime in the plaster absorbed the carbon dioxide from the air, forming a surface of calcium carbonate. This film of calcium carbonate impregnated with the colours became part of the plaster mass.


The colours of a fresco are usually thin, translucent, and light, often with a chalky or pastel look. It was not possible to achieve saturated hues due to dominant presence of white of Lime.


It was very necessary to finish the section of the painting before the plaster set. Most of the paintings, as a result lacked the finer detailing and perforce consisted of bare essentials. As the work was carried out in zones, segment by segment, it became the ‘style of painting’. In early works of Fresco painting such compartmentalization is very apparent. In later art works paintings were overdrawn to create graduated or tonal variations. Defective portions were removed by scratching the plaster and redone, and patchy effects were inevitable.


The artist had to be well aware as to the amount of colour the plaster will hold or absorb. Too much pigment caused the surface to become chalky or powdery.


In later day Frescos, the fixing of colour was controlled with use of variety of fixers such as sizing compounds, starch, gums, and plant excreted resins. These fixers were mostly hygroscopic, and so used to ‘run’ in wet weather or developed fungus. Plant resins had a few other problems that such fixers on drying provided comparatively a flat or dull-matt finish. Plant resins were acidic in nature and not always suitable for alkaline masonry surfaces.


Fresco painting was known to the ancient Egyptians, Cretans, and Greeks. The Romans also practised fresco painting, examples of which are found in Herculaneum and Pompeii. In early Christian times (2nd C AD) Frescos were used to decorate the walls of catacombs, or underground burial chambers.



The art of fresco underwent a great revival in Italy during the 13th and 14th C., begun by the Florentine painters Cimabue and Giotto, who painted numerous fine works in churches in Assisi, Florence, and Pisa. In the 15th C. the art flourished in Florence, notably in the work of Masaccio, Benozzo Gozzoli, and Ghirlandaio. Fresco painting reached its peak in the 16th C., with the supreme achievements of Raphael in the Vatican Palace and with The Last Judgement and Genesis frescoes by Michelangelo in the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel. Fresco painting was widely practiced in Europe in the 18th C., with nobility of style replaced by elegance and illusionist effects. One outstanding fresco painter in this period was Giovanni Battista Tiepolo in Italy.


Crucification Cimabue_016In FRESCO SECCO or lime-painting, the dry plaster was rubbed with a pumice stone to remove the crust, then washed with a thin mixture of water and lime. The colours were applied to this surface. Secco colours dry out lighter than their tone at the time of application, producing a pale, mat, chalky or ‘a distempered wall’ like effect. The fresco secco is inferior to true fresco. The colours are not clear, and the painting is less durable. The pigments are fused with the surface, but not completely absorbed in it, and may flake in time. Secco painting was the prevailing medium during medieval and early Renaissance period, and was revived in 18th C. Europe.

Giotto_-_Legend_of_St_Francis_-_-17-_-_St_Francis_Preaching_before_Honorius_IIISgraffito (Italian Graffiare, “to scratch”) is a form of fresco painting for exterior walls. A rough plaster undercoat is covered by thin layers of plaster, each stained with a different lime-fast colour. These coats were than covered by a fine-grain mortar finishing surface. The plaster was then engraved with sharp tools to varying depths to reveal the underlying layers of various colours. The surface of modern sgraffito fresco is often enriched with textures and with mosaics of stone, glass, plastic, and metal tesserae. Sgraffito has been a traditional folk art in Europe since the Middle Ages and was practiced as a fine art in 13th-century Germany. It has been recently revived in northern Europe.Ajanta Meister_des_Mahâjanaka_Jâtaka_001

Sri Lanks Sigiriya_ladies



Postby Gautam Shah


Terracotta soil of the Château de Chambord

Flooring, by virtue of its sheer extent and visual effectuality is the most prominent component of an interior space. Flooring, unlike a wall finish or a ceiling, is a very tactile component. It is used for movement of people and goods, sleeping, resting, bathing, washing, storing, food preparation, and handling and processing of materials.


Flooring provide a horizontal surfaceparallel to the gravity, for conducting tasks, placing facilities, amenities, utilities and other elements. Floors are required to absorb, filter or reflect the sound, air, light, heat, cold, dust, infections, moisture, radiations, etc. Some flooring systems, though play exactly an opposite role, i.e. to allow such elements to selectively pass through.


Like all other interior elements, flooring’s sensual aspects like colour, hue, etc. are of course important, but its tactile aspects like texture, feeling of warmth, cold, hardness or softness, etc., are even more important.




Flooring take-on a very prominent role: in sparsely furnished and lightly occupied rooms and corridors, rooms with high height ceilings, invisible ceilings, unimpressive or non interesting ceilings and in rooms with slopes or levels going upward (allowing larger floor area to be visible), rooms with slopes or levels going downwards (allowing a commanding bird eye view). Flooring sloping away or towards the viewer, do not permit perception of true colours or the visual textures. Flooring, which provide a pleasant experience and enhanced comfort, affect us more.pavement-tile-86383a-640


Floor finish of a flooring system is a tactile and sensorially effective aspect. It can be broadly classified as: hard or resilient, soft or scratch resistant, temporary or permanent, smooth or textured, dark or light coloured, hot or cold, opaque or transparent, absorbent or reflective, etc.



Colour of Flooring affects the spatial qualities of a built space. It primarily determines the level of brightness in a room.

Dark floors cut off bottom up reflection of radiation, and so are ideal in Open to sky spaces like Chowks, on window sills and spaces in front of windows, doors, verandahs. However, dark floors absorb more radiant heat due to the low reflectivity and get very warm. Dark floors are not preferred in walk areas, balconies or on terraces of occupied rooms in tropical climates. A dark floor in water pool heightens the feeling of depth, but can increase the rate of water evaporation due to grater absorption of heat radiation. Very dark and shiny floors show off dust and require frequent cleaning. Dark colours sills in windows increase the radiant heat inside the rooms. Dark sills on cellar windows (or such low natural illumination areas) reduce the level of reflected component of natural light.


Light-coloured floors substantially reduce the heat absorption, provided these are maintained clean. Light-coloured floors provide lightness and enhance the space size. White floors have a natural association with aseptic conditions, so are preferred in food preparation zones, health facilities and in sanctimonious areas (temples). White floors add to the space size or extent.


Coloured floors are used for livening up monotonous or drab spaces (very large halls like departmental stores, plazas, courtyards). Coloured floors are used in industrial plants, schools, hospitals etc. to indicate routes and movement areas for goods, vehicles and people.

City Palace Jaipur India

● Historically Flooring colour has been monochrome where good building stones were available. Earliest exotic colouring elements were mosaics of marble, ceramic and glass. Flooring colours have been exploited in sparsely occupied sections of the building such as corridors, passages, plazas. etc. West Asiatic architecture had monochrome flooring of building stone, and in some cases of terracotta units. Greeks used only white marbles. Greeks used mosaics to create images on the floor. Romans exploited the vast varieties of colourful marbles as inlay pieces, to create borders and central patterns. These pieces of variegated marbles were mainly sourced from debris of old buildings. Byzantine period also reused cut pieces of marbles of Roman columns. Byzantinian only intention was to create contrast and pattern definition, rather than a grand unitary or balanced colour scheme.

Roman use of debris

Herculaneum Floor rhombic tiles

 ● In Gothic architecture the colour through the stained glass window was so strong in the interior space that flooring colour was almost subordinated. However, the quality of laying and finishing were becoming very refined. Granites were used sparingly, only as part of patterns. Where high colour effect was, required floors were covered with carpets, rugs and floor spreads.

Carpet colour swatches

● English medieval period saw the use alternatively placed light and dark shades of flooring materials to form diagonal checker board flooring. In Post Gothic period windows’ glass became light hued, interiors were much more illuminated, the interior elements were painted and often gilded. These required a highly polished (glossy- dazzling surface) and a balanced colour scheme with intricate patterning for flooring. Italian business houses, which began commissioning very large buildings had greater daring and allowed large scale use of exotic flooring materials (imported from far-off regions). Renaissance saw painters and sculptors becoming builders and architects, who were very adapt in use of colour. Marbles and stones were selected in terms of not only the colour but their veins or grain patterns. The grain directions were exploited by selection of the cut profile to accentuate the pattern.


● Till 19th century a variety of baked clay materials -terracotta were produced. These had a range of oxide based natural colours of the constituent clays and whites of kaolin. The surface was fragile, porous and difficult to clean. Gazing by salt spraying was very common to make the surfaces impervious. Glazed tiles in variety of colours, ‘slip’ embossed textures, hand-painted and screen-printed patterns, embellishing with glass pieces were produced. For all these the chief fuel was wood, restricting the large scale production. Post 19th C. the Industrial Revolution period there was greater understanding of raw materials and manufacturing processes. The scale of production was very large as the Ceramics began to be produced with mineral coal. Quality was far superior and the range of colours was very large. High pressure casting, continuous kilns and precision cutting equipment helped in perfectly flat and sized flooring products.


● 20th C saw use of graded raw materials, better compaction techniques and controlled vitrification allowing production of highly vitrified flooring slabs that were as good as the natural granite, but with a range of lighter shades including whites.


● Wood Flooring: Wood was a local flooring material for many years. However 14th C Europe imported exotic woods of Asiatic origin, later from African and American locations (North and Latin). Rare woods, appreciated for their wonderful colours, grains and hardness, were used conservatively. The woods were veneered thin to form a surfacing material and backed with boards of low-cost local woods, or used as inlay material.

In 20 th century low-cost wood veneers of extra ordinary thinness were available. These are often grain composed, colour stained, bleached, screen or roll printed and embossed. Laminated flooring units (of paper boards) are replacing the veneer-based wood floors. Low quality wood pieces and chips are re-composed and impregnated with resins to form composite wood floor boards.

wood floor staining

Wood staining with water, oil or solvent soluble dyes is in use for several centuries as a primary and rejuvenating finish for wood floorings. High quality wood staining compounds based on dissoluble dyes helped overcoming the grain and colour equalization problem. Today many proprietary materials such as the melamine, polyurethane, silicone and epoxy-based floor stains are available. Wood bleaching to lighten its colour or of patches has been a craft, used for equalising the colour of wood floorings.

Epoxy coated floors for Industrial workshop



 Post -by Gautam Shah


Windows and Doors, both are penetrable surfaces, but a Door allows intentional physical transition, whereas a Window allows only sensorial connection. Perception through a window is invariably obtrusive. A window as an opening is more manipulable then a door. ‘The eyes are the windows of the soul’, but eyes see what the mind decides to perceive. Khalil Gibran says a window is like a Doctrine -we see the truth through it, but it divides us from truth.


City (1924) by le corbusier Ville le Lac, Corseaux (1924) by Le Corbusier

From a deep interior The view is straight just across it. Everything to the left, right, above and below the window is out of view. Yet, a window allows the taste of reality from the safety of our abode. The safety of indoors, behind a window, is often worth more then being out of doors and free.


In fiction ‘people who look through windows have a narrow view, and are standoffish. These people will watch the world go by from their window, but not do anything about it. People who are scared to look out of the window are people that do not want to know what is going on in the world around them. Even though they are still protected by the glass, they are still worried that the world will be too shocking to behold. Sometimes, these people will open the window just to holler out. These are the ones who believe that they have a say in the world but are not truly a part of’.


The protection of the window instigates us to do things, which one may not dare across a door. We cast off unwanted things out of the window because nothing is likely to bounce back from here. For punishment or revenge people have been thrown out of the windows as an act of defenestration. In some expediencies some enter or jump out of the window like a Romeo. Gaining an entry through a door is much more authoritative then breaking in like a thief through a window. Finestrata in Italian language is slamming shut a window in anger.


Defenestration is an act of throwing someone or something out of a window. The term was coined around the time of an incident in Prague Castle in the year of 1618. The word comes from the Latin de (from; out of) and fenestra (window or opening). Although defenestration can be fatal due to the height of the window, through which a person is thrown, or lacerations from broken glass. The defenestration, though was an act of rejection rather then with the intention of causing death.


The painful experience of going across a window makes one extra ordinarily careful before venturing in or out of a window. Fire or emergency exit doors do not cause as much alarm and skepticism as much as egress windows do. An opening becomes a window due to hindrances it offers, so slight raising of the threshold turns a door into a French window.


It is said heavens have doors only for entry, because no one would want to leave it, ever. Though, heavens have windows to look down and realize the difference between here and there, or perhaps to defenestrate a mischief maker !


Italians try to avoid buttare il denaro (throwing money) out if a window. Mangi la minestra o salti la finestra,’ is the threat an Italian mamma gives to a child who doesn’t want to eat the food she’s prepared. Eat the soup or jump out the window is the Italian equivalent of, Take it or leave it.

Going out of a window could be hazardous, but going out through a door is a conscious move but full of dilemmas. Italian lovers in trouble, however, find a way to uscire dalla porta e rientrare dalla finestra -leave by the door and sneak back in by the window with apologies.

‘A doorway has a narrow view of the world, but a person can walk through the doorway. The doorway is their opportunity to actually make a difference in the world. People who are more willing to make a difference in the world have an easier time walking through the doorway then others. Characters in stories that are too scared to walk through a door are also scared about what the world might do to them. They would rather keep that doorway as their shell from the rest of the world’.


Scaffold Building Manhattan New York City Taxi

Windows, seems to have suggested a different physical and psychological interpretation to J. R. Tolkien. Unlike other openings, one doesn’t usually use a window as a passageway, but rather as a means by which to see and assess the world before using the door to step into it. Because of their relatively smaller size, windows often present a limited view or frame of the world. Tolkien frequently uses this idea to frame a particular character’s view of present circumstances. Virtually every mention of windows includes a reference to light or lack thereof. Because the view through a window is limited, characters may perceive the situation to be better or worse than it actually is, depending upon the perspective the window affords them. In other instances, Tolkien frames the situation for the readers by referring to the level of light seen in a window or by the protective measures applied to the window. Windows generally offer less protection from dangerous intrusion than doors, so their number, size, and treatment reveal the world view of the house’s inhabitants. Hundreds of windows as at Brandy Hall imply a sense of peace, prosperity, and security, as opposed to the heavy-shuttered and curtained windows found in Bree where suspicion and caution rule.’ Crossing the Threshold, Openings and Passageways in J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. By C. Riley Auge.



Post -by Gautam Shah



Colour of the flooring has been a key space defining element. The choice of colour for floorings was once limited to natural colours of the materials that were used. The natural colours of clays, stones, woods, terracottas, ceramics, etc., were further enhanced by the inherent patterns of the materials. The colour scheme was also supplemented by embellishments made of metals, precious stones and glass. The interior floor colours were enhanced by paintings, lighting, rugs, and furnishings. The colour, geometry and bearing of the joints add both the colour and pattern.



Tactile floor for railway platform edge

Patterns in the flooring result from the sizes of materials, geometry of laying, natural colours, grains, textures and constitutional anomalies. Patterns are used as space scaling elements. In large plazas flooring patterns have been used to coordinate, connect and align the surrounding architectural entities of varied sizes, shapes and styles into a cohesive spatial entity. Flooring patterns have also been used to add proportioning elements to a space, create visual linkages between spatial entities, segregate functional modules, mark areas for specific purposes, impose a logical order in a trivial setting, and break the regimen by adding a little frivolity.



Non secular Greek buildings had mosaic floors, with few peripheral bands, but with a large topical central pattern in geometric design or pictorial patterns. For mosaic marble, ceramics, and glass were used. Greeks used white marbles cut to fit the bays of classical column order. Later bands touching the walls were added.

Cosmatesque, or Cosmati, a style of geometric decorative inlay stonework typical of Medieval Italy, Rome and surroundings


Romans used a variety of patterns like: opus spicatum (herring bone), opus sectile (geometric or pictorial), opus quadratum (rectangular blocks), opus incertum (polygonal-crazy), opus reticulum (diagonal effect) and opus mixtum (mix of two materials). Romans used coloured marbles to create inlay patterns. Thermae (bath houses) had perhaps the most garish floorings.

Ostia antica

Romanesque period saw borders of stamped block pattern using same design form repeatedly which later occurred as an interlaced band through meandering or fretting.


Byzantine buildings used bands in walls like in floors. The bands on the walls, flowing over piers, in-fill walls, arches etc. gave an organic feel of continuity, However, the bands on the floor were in basic shapes like square, circle, rectangular. The floor band pattern did not follow the internal architectural configuration at floor level, creating an austere interior.

Aleppo, Umayyad Mosque

Gothic flooring began to move out of the dominance of structural form of the space. Perpendicular space or the verticality was managed by allowing the basic floor pattern to expand into pier widths, side aisles, passages, window offsets, etc. Floors were though heavily occupied by furniture and other demountable structures. Many floor sections were covered with rich embroidered fabrics, rugs etc.


Renaissance buildings were planned by painters and sculptors. Flooring patterns was now a rich visual entity. The flooring patterns instead of being confined within the structural or architectural definitions reverted to strong centralized-theme. However, for the centralized theme figurative or pictorial forms were now not used. Centrality was achieved due to the character of divergence and convergence in the pattern. The space between the central pattern and abutting architectural element was executed in monochrome treatment, enhancing the medallion effect.

Palazzo del Senators, Capitol, Rome, designed by Michelangelo is an oval shaped design with bands defining the pattern character. The floor pattern creates a harmonic visual relationship between buildings of different characters, sizes and functions.


Grand Trianon, Fontainebleau and Galerie des Versailles, have chequered flooring to implicate a scale in a long space. Dual coloured diagonal chequered patterns have been extensively used in Medieval and Renaissance buildings. The chequered patterns have been often bounded by bands. Straight and diagonal chequered floors with corner inlay stones have also been popular as in-filling in pattern. Such floor configurations require multiple bands to define and limit the pattern extent.



Modern floor pattern making relies on the composition, colour, the view angle, underfloor illumination, surface reflection, pattern projection from top and under floors, strobes laser projections. These techniques have a basic advantage that floor pattern can be varied for the purpose and day-night conditions. Landscaped floor also explore the inherent colour-texture of the floors along with the presence of architectural sub elements, plants, trees and shrubs.